Dos and Don'ts of Potty Training

Toilet training can be a big step in your child's life - after all, it is a sign that she is growing up and becoming an increasingly independent little person - but it can also be a very difficult step for both you and her to take. You and your partner may worry exactly what you should and should not be doing during the potty training process. Here are some tips on what actions you should take during your child's potty training and what steps you should avoid during the process.

Potty Training Dos

There are a few steps that you and your partner can take to ensure that your little one has a positive and successful potty training experience.

Check For Readiness
It can be tempting for parents to rush their children into potty training once they hit the age of two. However, not all children are ready to potty train at the same time. Children begin to show physical signs of readiness between the ages of 18 and 24 months, however, many children are not fully potty trained until the age of 4. S, before you start teaching your child the ins and outs of potty training, make sure that they are ready. Look for signs of interest in the potty and make sure that your child has regular bowel movements, the ability to pull his pants up and down, and the ability to follow simple instructions. Find more information on potty training readiness at this potty training site.

Make Plans Ahead of Time
If you and your partner are thinking about starting potty training with your child, be sure to plan ahead. Discuss when you want to start the potty training lessons and the methods that you want to use. Be sure to talk about how you will deal with any setbacks or accidents, to ensure that you are both on the same page. Additionally, spend some time thinking about ways in which you will motivate your child. You might want to consult your pediatrician or health care provider for more information on beginning potty training.

Coordinate With Other Caregivers
It is necessary for you to inform additional caregivers when you decide to begin potty training. It is important that your child receive consistent instruction when using the potty. Tell your nanny, preschool, and aunts, uncles, or grandparents the techniques that you are using when potty training so that they can be consistent when taking your child to the bathroom.

Offer Praise
It is very important that you praise your child whenever possible during the potty training stage. Every time your child attempts to use the toilet, it is a good idea to praise him, by offering a big hug or telling him how proud you are of him. You might want to comment on how happy you are that he washed his hands after using the potty, or that he told you when he felt the urge to go to the bathroom. By praising your child, you are offering him positive feedback that will only reinforce his desire to use the potty.

Offer Motivation
Children often lose interest in things quickly, so try to use some motivational techniques to help keep your child interested in potty training. Buy a doll or action figure that your child can "potty train". Purchase some colorful books about potty training and get your child to read them while using the toilet. Or, you may also want to offer rewards for successful use of the potty - stickers and stamps are great for kids learning to use the toilet.

Potty Training Don'ts

There are a few things that you and your spouse should try to avoid while potty training your toddler. Keep these potty training "don'ts" in mind throughout the process!

Don't Rush Things
Potty training can be very frustrating for both you and your child. You or your partner may feel the urge to rush your child into using the toilet, but this can cause a number of negative results. If you push a child who isn't completely ready to move on, it can cause him to regress, and he may lose whatever potty training skills he has already gained. If you push too much, your child may become resistant to going to the potty or lose interest in training altogether. It is much better to allow your child to take potty training at his own pace.

Don't Overcomplicate Things
Adults sometimes forget that they need to adjust their way of speaking when they are addressing little children. As you are teaching your child to potty train, avoid the urge to overcomplicate things. Instead, address your child in a way that she can understand you. Use simple words to describe body parts and bodily functions and encourage your child to use these words. Above all, be consistent. Use the same words every time you potty train.

Don't Worry About Others
Potty training frequently becomes a competition amongst parents. You may feel that you have to start potty training your child just because your next door neighbor's child is trained. But when it comes to toilet training children, nothing could be further from the truth. Every child progresses at his own rate and it is important that your entire family is ready for this progression. You will likely also receive a lot of potty training tips from friends, family members, and other moms. Though typically well intended, this advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Only use advice that seems useful to you and ignore everything else.

Don't Punish Your Child
Potty training is a time filled with accidents and mistakes. It is through these mistakes that your child will learn how to successfully use the toilet. Though it will be frustrating when your child forgets to use the potty, it is important that you never punish her for her mistakes. By offering negative reinforcement, your child could become afraid of potty training, making the process even more difficult.

For more information on potty training and your child check out our potty training videos.